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Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Granola

Also known as my new favorite breakfast cereal.

Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Granola

Move over, Kashi. I think I’ve got you beat.

And speaking of Kashi… I found a ton of it at this resale store over the weekend. You know, one of those wholesale buyout places that snatches up all kindsa stuff that’s about to go out of date, or be discontinued? And then they sell it for cheap!! Like TJ Maxx for junk.

So we were actually shopping for bits and pieces of Halloween costumes because Andrew keeps giving me all these crazy costume instructions. He means business. As we were walking into the store I was cracking a joke to Chad about there always being an overabundance of health food products at this place because no one except me buys them in the regular stores and they are always about to go out of date.

Public Service Announcement to my people in southwestern North Carolina: You guys. Sundrop is not a food group.

Okay, so we are walking through this discount resale store looking for an orange hardhat (I bought yellow. Close enough.), and I spotted this humongous wall of Kashi. Everything from cereal to snack bars. They even had those caramel pecan roll things. I started scouring the packaging for the expiration dates, trying to figure out how much Kashi product I could possibly consume before it’s harboring mold spores or something, and that’s when I saw it:

High fructose corn syruped hydrogenated everything.

I felt so betrayed.

Because it’s been a pretty long while since I read a Kashi label. I was just rolling along, trusting that recycled cardboard packaging and perfectly balanced right-on-the-cusp pricing. You know, it’s too expensive to be cheap garbage, but it’s just reasonable enough that I’ll consider it. Plus it’s all grainy and earthy and has like 4,000 grams of fiber or something.

Quinoa Granola

To be fair, the labels that were shocking the socks off of me (or something… because I actually hate socks) were for the candy bar kinda Kashi. The chocolate drizzled coconut pecan caramel clustered cookie kind of yummies. And they DID still have lots of whole grains. And they were probably more nutritious than a Snickers bar, though, I dunno… Snickers DOES satisfy.

 

But I was disappointed anyway.

I make granola all the time with oats and dried fruit and coconut. I pour milk over it and eat it like cereal. I sprinkle it on my yogurt, take a bite, and then toss in another handful.

I put it on ice cream. Or frozen yogurt (by far still the BEST way to eat granola).

I really never tire of crunchy, grainy, fruity cereal. This time was a little different, though, because I added quinoa to the oatmeal. And cranberries. Pecans. Dried apricots. Roasted sunflower seeds.

No high fructoligized anything.

Disclaimer: I actually really love Kashi products. They do a really great job of taking weird food from health food stores that scares people and making it mainstream in friendly packaging. And it IS so much better for you than most pre-packaged foods. But lesson learned! Don’t stop label reading just because you trust a company.

 

Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Granola

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed according to package instructions

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats (quick cook works, too)

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil!!! mmmmmmm)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar (or maple syrup)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds, lightly salted

1 (6 ounce) package dried apricots, about 1 cup, coarsely chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the uncooked quinoa and the water to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, until all the water is absorbed and it can be fluffed with a fork, about 15 minutes. Set aside, uncovered, so it will cool slightly.

Pre-heat the oven to 250. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the cooked quinoa and the uncooked oats. In a small saucepan, heat the honey, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla, stirring occasionally,  until bubbly and the sugar is dissolved. Pour the liquid over the quinoa oat mixture and stir well to incorporate. Spread it evenly across the prepared baking sheet. The thinner the layer, the faster the granola will crisp up, so bigger baking sheets work best.

Bake for about 90 minutes, stirring around every 15 minutes or so. Make sure to pull the granola away from the edges and push it around the baking sheet when stirring; the edges tend to brown first.

The granola won’t be done in 90 minutes at that low a temperature. So take it out of the oven, turn the heat up to 350, and toss the granola with the remaining ingredients. Pour 1/3 back onto the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. It’ll crisp up quickly and your cranberries and pecans won’t have that weird singed oven taste. Repeat with the remaining 2/3 granola mixture.

Store in an air tight container.

Enjoy immensely.

Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Granola

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